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Maria H. Iozzi
Red Bank Middle School
Red Bank Borough Schools
Red Bank, New Jersey

As an emigrant herself and the first in her family to attend and graduate college, Red Bank Middle School principal Maria H. Iozzi understands the challenges faced by the Latino families and students that make up 74 percent of her school’s population. Under her leadership, Red Bank implemented the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program for all levels in the 500-student, grade four through eight school. The program comprises a rigorous, college-prep curriculum that includes not only reading and writing skills but also critical thinking and the 21st century skills of inquiry and collaboration. Most importantly, it exposes students to a college readiness culture that many of them would otherwise not be exposed to, says Iozzi. Additional student opportunities including clubs, events, cultural and artistic programs, and youth development, are offered as a result of Iozzi’s proactive leadership in forming partnerships with groups such as Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Parent involvement has been another primary focus; attendance at parent-teacher conferences has soared to an all-time high of more than 80 percent during Iozzi’s five-year tenure. Literacy and Math Family Nights, PTO meetings, and other events are conducted in Spanish as well as English with the help of the school’s ELL staff. Iozzi’s superintendent praises her for her steadfast focus on student achievement in an environment where demands are magnified by a student population that is diverse ethnically, economically, and linguistically. Iozzi’s credentials include a Bilingual/Bicultural Certificate from Kean University, a B. A. in Education from Rutgers University, and an M. A. in Educational Leadership from New Jersey City University.